The National Organization of Women (NOW) was established in 1966 at The Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women. At the start of our country, women didn’t have much say in the home and definitely no power in public. As the country began to grow and wars began to interrupt our daily lives, women had to take on a stronger role at home while their husbands went off and fought. During the struggles for abolition of slavery, women were able to enter the public sphere. During this time, many realized that as they were fighting for the rights of African Americans, they should also be fighting for the rights of their own gender.
NOW was established to give women a voice and recognized their aptitude to participate. Check out an excerpt from their Statement of Purpose:
They also claimed that their organization was vital to the success of America and the survival of what a woman should be:
After their first conference in 1966, they spanned to 300 members (male and female). Then, they started gaining steam. In 1967, they adopted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), passed the repeal of abortion laws, and supported publicly funded child care. They created “Bill of Rights for Women” and was the first organization to promote the legislation of abortion. In 1970, NOW organized the “Women’s Strike for Equality” and helped pass the ERA in the house. In 1977, a Political Action Committee is formed to get feminists elected into office. In 1980, they denounce the use of a draft, but say that if there is a draft, women should be included. In 1983, they were the lead organizer for the Martin Luther King Jr. march and added equality to the previous theme of peace and justice. In 1984, NOW held the first Lesbian Right’s Conference. In 1987, they initiated The Great American Mother’s Day Write-In to counter the right-wing assault to stop the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act. In 2001, NOW spoke out against President Bush saying that he had an anti-woman agenda.
NOW has a long history of standing up for feminist ideals which they claim represent most women’s wishes. Currently, on their home page, the top issues concerning them today are Abortion Rights and Reproductive Issues, Economic Justice, Ending Sex Discrimination, Lesbian Rights, Promoting Diversity and Ending Racism, and Stopping Violence Against Women.
As members and supporters of NeW, where do we stand? And, what was wrong with being a suburban housewife? What are our most important issues and how can we use mainstream media, like NOW did, to get women to stand behind us and support us? As NeW women, we have a bright future ahead ourselves……how exciting!